Thursday, January 31, 2013

aware and intense and beautiful

Next is Mallory.
I must get back to Mallory with photos.
Look at her. Look at how intense she is.
You do not want a chic like that hunting you down.

Well, actually she's super kind.

And I've got to get her photos done.

Which means edit. Change what I did while trying to show who I think Mallory is.
But it's not only me. The question will always be who does Mallory think she is.

Today I am grateful for those people who remind me of what I don't want to change.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

the boy

He calls, Congratulations.

Oh. You know.

Yep. That's awesome.

Thank you and I'm sorry.

He laughs.

I know I've been nuts for the past few years. I mean, it's not over. It can't be the end. I think this is the life.

Today I am grateful to hear his laugh, listen to his smile.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


What Shelby said.


Shea. Have you seen the new eat.drink.Mississippi?

No. What?

This is an increase in pulse, a holding of breath. The brain, it cycles. Did Mom get her's in the mail? How did she ask the question? Is she trying to sound upbeat because she knew what I hoped and what is she talking about? Mom is not one to joke. Will she ever say another word? Will I ever find out? This is the longest phone conversation I ever had. She's not talking. Why isn't she saying anything?


You haven't seen it?


Rhonda shared it on the computer. Annie made the cover.

This is when I may or may not have cried.

Today I am grateful for little fairies who are obviously working behind the scenes of what I dream, how  maybe when we put ourselves around humans who create we become part of their creation.

Um.   yeah.    I'll just savor this one for a minute.

Monday, January 28, 2013

little mister sunshine

place, Second Line Pottery

Today I am grateful for work and place, for how they can join to form our identity.
For how people share who and what they are and how in that space we can meet.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Today I am grateful for a ride in the grey, two friends who never changed and the way we sang.

Thank you, Dooby and Angie Means.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

holding breath

When strawberries go to heaven.

It is here you realize the stories become precious, that a picture of a strawberry is not just a picture of a strawberry. It is a picture of a strawberry picked over and picked out. A late season, an import.

If there is one reason I would say I hate the deer ate the strawberries it is because I don't get to deliver any to Annie. I will have to buy some from Lisa and Randy and take them to her on a plate she gave Dad with his very own strawberry cake. Dad, all six foot and something of him who chops his own wood, giggled and hugged and well      

it's      Annie.

Shea, I told that girl at that store that I was going to be in that magazine. She had it right there at the register.

You did?  It was?

Yep. I told her that I had a cousin who was a writer and a photographer and she had taken pictures of my strawberry cake and she had written a story about it and it was going to be in that magazine.


I think this must be one of those times in life you think this will never be good enough. My capacity to place words in an order to form a life of what all I can't explain eighty-one years of Annie.

What did she say?

She said she'd be looking for it.

Oh good.

Yep. I told her it'd be soon.

February March, Ms. Annie.

Is that when?

Yes. I'll bring you a copy.

Her plate. The magazine. Strawberries from Mathis.

In another week you'll be able to buy it. The story, the recipe. What I want to tell you now is that it is not good enough but one day I had to decide at the very last minute on the end of a line in that moment of time it was the best I had to give.

Plus, give me a break. It's Annie.       And a word limit.

Today I am so grateful for the teachers in my life, for how Annie doesn't want to sell you a cake but rather show you how to make it.

Friday, January 25, 2013

job, dream

Dear Cover Letter Shitty First Draft. (Thank you, Rebecca)

Hi. A friend sent me an email with your available job position embedded as it's text. In the subject line she typed three words. Those three words were.   this, is, you

I wonder. Travel photography. huh.

Yes. I do love a good road trip when I can get in my car with my dog and hit an open road. See new places, meet new people, witness a sun and a mountain and an ocean. Yes, that sounds great.

An agricultural journal? Hm. See how humans cultivate the land? Yeah. I do think I would like that and it would not be a bad idea for the girl who allowed the deer to eat all the strawberries in her own patch to learn a thing or two from people who know about deer being fond of such a plant. Duh.

You mentioned something about professional. I   well   yeah  fiveminutes. I can do five minutes of professional, five minutes on the phone, five minutes in person, five minutes writing time. I can play the role of professional for a limited amount of space until I get behind my equipment. Once I am there then I don't have to play professional because all I care about is the photograph and sometimes maybe that is as professional as this photographer is going to get.

It says you would pay me for this, that you offer benefits. A background check? You can run two on me as well a credit check and a google search and ignore the blog, that's just me and a few of my friends. It is therapy and letters and what led up to a friend believing that what you describe is me.

If only.

You need twenty links to photographs which depict my take on lighting. Twenty. I have to pick.

Here goes.


Looking back on photos I once thought were good was hard. What I learned is that I am a developing photographer, always interested in getting better and better and I never want to stop. This, I think, is the greatest single thing I can bring to you.

Shea Goff

Today I am grateful for an opportunity, for how a friend thinks of me.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Silly the Lion

Conversation captured.

Today I am grateful for the others in the flu colony.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

donation to creation

I gave to this.

It is the second Kickstarter project to which I have contributed.

I wish I could fund all the Kickstarter projects as well as end all hunger, stop all disease, create world peace, make sure every animal has their very own love seat.

I know there is so much need.


I gave to this. If you have an extra dollar, just a dollar, then I would suggest you give it to someone who is creating a dream, putting inspiration into action and living what he preaches.

I did.

the confessional

Again with the Grand Oak Bluegrass Gospel Hall.

I roll over, start with my feet and feel the pressure in my legs. For just one moment I leave the rest of my body on the bed. It is noon. When I talked to Mom at 6:00am she told me what I needed to do and what Dad would do and she would be at Aunt Wanda's.

Any requests? Do you need anything?

Nothing more than you said and I am just fine.

What kind of juice do you like?

I stumble since I am not what you would call a drinker of juice, not big into it. Um.    Grape. I guess.

Anything else?

I'm okay.

None of the rest of us need this, Shea. 

I know, Mom. I'm quarantined. 

I walk to the door. Turn the knob. Peek outside at two grocery sacks. Provisions are nice. Dad has not only picked up my medicine, he has also brought me two gallons of grape juice and one of some super amped crangrape with pomegranate and blueberry and I'm scared it's going to make me glow.

I look up and out into the yard. Dad has moved some limbs, thrown them over the fence. If there was a reason I got the flu it would be 'cause I needed to say thank you to Dad. And maybe something else.

Confession no. Sometimes we need to count.

That officer that stopped me, he had stopped my Dad a few weeks back when Mom had made Dad go get ice for the Christmas party. I may have mentioned to that officer, it could possibly be presented in a court of law, that

I was nothing like my Dad.

I may have, yes I did, told my Dad I said that. Then I laughed and said, Now that's funny, in't it?
He did a smirk before he shook his head and backed out the door. In the Dad and me world this is called Game On.

Sometimes I think I want to be just like my Dad, like how he puts himself into the service of his family and his community. If anyone asks him for something he usually says yes though he has suggested maybe once or twice that I may need to take him off my mailing list.

Those worried that maybe he didn't get me back, please know he did.

When the pharmacist asked questions about my condition. Dad told her, Heck. What I think is the truth is she don't have the flu. She was probably out all night partying and getting drunk.

Dad stops by later to tell me the story and I laugh. Did she laugh? I ask between bouts of losing my breath to talk.

Dad shakes his head, Well I told her what you said about not being like me.

We smile and laugh at and with each other and he puts deer meat in my freezer and tells stories on my porch and I thank him for the provisions and the help with the limbs and tell him I am going to drink every bit of that juice though I may start glowing. I ask him if I need to write him a check or give him cash tomorrow. Cash'll be fine he tells me.

Today I am grateful for family and what it means to live amongst mine.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I don't have the flu and we're going to do this. okay? okay.

It's the fever high and Kim laughs. I should make one of those little posters that says a true friend thinks it's hilarious when your head, face, ears, hair emit heat. It is. I could do a stand up act with this delirium.

Though I think I am supposed to be serious.

Seriously there are at least three angry muscles lining the back of my neck. When I think of those muscles, which I now often do, they are red and inflamed and sticking tiny little pins within themselves.

The good news is the fever broke. Now I am freezing.

I can't have the flu. I don't have the flu. Right now I am writing away the flu

because I have to participate in building a website for a live thing that is happening and I know nothing about a website other than I love this one and this one.  Yeah, I'll take those but different.

This feels important to me.

There is a music here which won't be denied. A festival happening with chairs and blankets on the ground. It's not till May but already a group of people are excited about the possibilities and potential of what they've been hearing. The place is a state park named after a creek. There are bands and line-ups and a young man in charge of music.

When I wonder if this could happen I send Tyler Carroll a question.
His answer is always. always.  yes.

Today I am grateful for what can be, what we dream.

Live music some call pickin' and grinnin' and a guy doing some banjo flippin'. I can't help but smile.

Monday, January 21, 2013

inside your outside

Today I am grateful for expeditions and explorations, how plans change and how we let them.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

when I think of steak and the torture of Peyton


Hey, Peyton.


Something is up. This is not the overexcited child I had expected.

Whatcha doin'?

Reading a book.

Cool. What book is it?

Inside your Outside.

Inside Outside?

No. Inside YOUR Outside.

Is it good?

It's Dr. Seuss.

Oh, I love him. Is this your favorite book of his?

They're making me read it.

They're making you read it?

Her voice goes up two octaves and words begin stringing together and the sound becomes all her breath, Yes. My favorite TV show is on and I want to watch it and they won't let me. They're making me read this whole book.

She hands the phone to Kim.


You are torturing that child.

Yes.   Yes, I am.

Today I am grateful to relax in a couple of phone conversations and laugh with Kim about Peyton's torture.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

monkey heart, my


before you wrote your next song

I realize what I've been needing as soon as I walk into the building. Sawdust is piled at least four inches thick in one third corner on the right. The steers are showing. We've already missed Jess. Someone says she won first in showmanship.

Pigs are next? I ask Jason.


It's been too long since I've heard one of her songs.
This is coparenting or cofamilying or there are too few words.

Three steers line the wall, their handlers one boy two girls. We watch. I check light. Jason and I remember and laugh about being Jesse's age. How his cow was the best 'cause of all that time he had spent with him. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Blackie I remember.

The cows are judged and so are the handlers. We and a wall lined with bleachers and people listen to the words slow, steady, cooperation. Soon the pairs push through a swinging door as they leave. We become like the sawdust waiting.

We hear the pigs are next. I ask out loud, Will it be Jess?

Jason answers, Maybe. We'll see.

I almost give up on this being her class when seven pigs enter followed by their children. Again another swinging door opens. More pigs, more children, then. Jess. I instantly want her attention but then just watch. Watch as Jess focuses on her pig and a judge and maneuvering through a crowd of other kids and other pigs and sawdust and that kid has confidence and her Dad instructs her on my right.

Where's your judge?
Jesse, where's your judge?
You gotta move him, Jesse.

She looks up, looks at him and says, I am trying.
I do a little jump dance wave trying not to say anything and she sees me and I her and we smile.

Today I am grateful for those moments I am reminded what it is like to be around a songwriter, a singer, a pig handler, a performer, a wonderful, wonderful mess.

Friday, January 18, 2013


David Foster Wallace wrote a Rolling Stone article about a trip on a bus following a man running for office. It became the single reason I voted for that man. David convinced me in the first paragraph why I should believe him.

What David said is that we are a generation of being sold and we know it. We had watched Saturday morning cartoons between bouts of what we were told we wanted. David had me there so I read on.

Granny calls and yells through the phone, Shea. It's snowing. It'ssobeautiful.You gotta see it.Have you looked out the window?Don't you have to go to work?Are you awake yet?Are you upandatit?

I match volume though it is 7:30am and I did awake before the alarm clock 'cause it is so loud that I am scared it will go off. It occurs to me that I may need pen and paper. It feels like I need to answer too many questions at once, Granny. ohmygosh. I know.Yes.Yes.Yes.Yesup.Noatit.

Here's to Now was a song from the soundtrack of one hundred eighty degrees South. When I first heard that song I was watching that movie and well. It would be okay if you didn't understand.


The one thing I had figured out, or at least I thought I had, was that I needed to focus on now and stop worrying about the past or the future.

The day before yesterday now meant I was confronted with television at the office where I work. There was mass hysteria and breaking news and pressured speech and Daddy says you can't believe anything you read on the internet.

But I think at least I can read it and it's not going to be shouted at me.

Granny calms down a bit, You seen it? You been outside? Isn't it gorgeous? My kids came by today and I danced for them on the sidewalk. In the snow with my flip flops on.

You did?

They hollered 'Granny.'

I bet.

Can you come by and take pictures? Everyone is telling me to take pictures of it. They don't believe it's snowing in Mississippi.

Yeah. Well. I'm not too happy about it. Granny, it is cold. I am spoiled. We've had such a mild winter.

But Shea you should see it in town. My backyard is beautiful. Your Daddy didn't even believe it was snowing. He told me to call and tell you. He said you'd be up.

Oh he did. Did he? I'll get him back but yes, I'll be there.

There is a moment in the movie when one of those guys talks about what it means to be an American, to protect our rights and our land and our freedoms because we were born a nation of distrust, dissonance. That had helped us. It meant we were protective of an idea, a belief that our nation, our land, belonged to us. the people. We are quite possessive of us and what that means.

I wear khakis and a cardigan. I don't own a coat or an umbrella. In the thirty-five minutes it takes me to get to Granny's the snow has melted. I knock three quick times and hear Granny shout from inside, I'm coming.

I take off the lens cap, start shooting, adjusting from the hip. I don't have much time.

I hear the screen door open and close behind me while Granny is explaining, It all melted. It was so pretty, Shea. I promise. Brandi called. I think they got some pictures. She said Todd did.

Oh no. I'm taking pictures, Granny. I'm going to get you a shot.

Well. You don't have to. Like I said, Brandi and Todd, they got some before it melted.

I spot a fence to the back left and start walking toward it in the rain and snow with Granny saying, Shea. You don't have to get wet. Don't worry about it.

I get four bad shots.
I suffered momentarily for this piece of work.
I was shivering, people.

From what I have read the twenty-three points have some reason, make some sense.
This is what I know, or think maybe, right now we need to make sure we read and understand what is happening in our world.
Hostages. What?

Today I am grateful for a commercial.

Last night I asked Mom, Does Dad's computer have audio?
She answered, I think so.
I sat down and went here.
She walked into the room to the sound of a man's voice.
I swear I hate him.
'Cause listen to him. I hate him because I love him. It is so wrong for him to sound like that. He's brilliant and he shouldn't be 'cause. I breathe frustration.

You know what she did?

She laughed.

I didn't even show her this.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

now and an old movie


Studying the twenty-three points.
Remembering something David Foster Wallace once wrote.
Wishing I had John Krakauer's phone number and if I called we could talk.
Deciding to watch a movie again.

'Cause you were obviously wondering what I would be doing at 3:30 in the morning.

shake your head

Rain turns to snow and we remember blue.

I dream in days, days of photography, a whole day devoted to the struggle of an article, twenty-four hours of going to the post office, paying a bill, cleaning house, cooking dinner.

I dream of nights in escape, a long conversation, how we sat out on the porch.

The news streams into a room on my left and ahead. Blue carpet blocks my view of the door. The place I now claim is the place I was put and boxes are checked, signatures here, there, again. Folders and files and to be shredded. Wear this, say that. Do not have an opinion.

I dream of a day at the beach, the one we had last year and when will we go again.

Sometimes it's good to be still. quiet.

Today I am grateful for a silence, for a balcony, for time to think.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

those moments

when I feel like such a girl and I blush.

dare I want


I do.

I do want this.

busy body or busybody, confession no. who's counting

Caught the eye


Yes, Officer.

This is ridiculous. I was supposed to be at Annie's at 7am. Add thirty minutes to that and you see me in a gas station parking lot. There is a tall, uniformed man standing behind me and to the left. He is requiring my driver's license and proof of insurance. I have both and am feeling a little pride in not only that, but I can find them in my purse as well. Two stars. I give myself two stars for that one.

Do you know how fast you were going?

Not really but I know I was speeding because I'm trying to get to Ms. Annie's to pick up a cake for a benefit.

A benefit? For what?

My words are coming out like my driving, It's a mother and a kid and the kid is sick and there are some women who put together a sale. And Annie called and said we needed to be there at seven and I was thinking eight and now she's waiting for me.

Hm. He pauses and then, You from around here?

Yeah, I'm talking like I'm putting on some kind of performance, pointing, nodding my head, telling a story with my hands. That he is not putting his hand on his gun is quite amazing.

I live out that way. My Mama and my Daddy and two brothers, their wives, the kids. I've been gone twenty something years, just got back four months ago.

I'm gonna take your license back to my car and I'll run 'em. But I want you to think while I decide if I'm gonna write you a ticket. You hear?

Yes sir.

I want you to decide what is wrong with you that you were needing to drive like that.

I nod big and know what he's talking about as he's saying it.

He walks back to his car.

I look at Billy Sue and realize I had forgotten she was there. She looks up at me with those big eyes of concern, Dude. Are we in trouble? I am concerned.

I can't help but giggle and then whisper, Billy Sue. We can't be messing around. He needs an answer.

We stare out the window, my hands gripping the wheel. It's raining and the road had been slick. I was going fourteen miles per hour over the speed limit. What I did was wrong and I know it. So why? To help a kid and a Mama? Yes. Could I have killed someone? Yes.

Dear, Shea. Slow  down.

The officer walks back to the car and hands me back what I once was so proud of. I could find those.

Well, Ms. Goff. Have you got your answer for me?

Yes sir.

Can you tell me please?

Well you see I am so disorganized.

I notice him looking behind me into the world of backseat explosion of crazy. I don't even have to look at Billy Sue to know she's asking, You think?

I really need better time management skills. I need to organize myself, the things I need to do, so I won't be flying some place where I should be going. It doesn't make any sense to help someone while putting someone else in harm's way.

He smiles, The other lady who I stopped earlier offered me a red velvet cupcake. He says her last name and asks me if I know her.

Yes. I think. Maybe. I'm not sure but I was thinking you could most likely make your way through a few cupcakes and a couple of whole cakes this morning, I laugh.

He laughs. I think I'll be over there to buy something. What y'all are doing is a good thing but you need to slow down.

I know sir. Yes sir.

Today I am grateful for warnings and their importance, the change we can choose.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

stimulating, stimulating weather

I am at Martha's when she asks if I'd like coffee and I answer, I'll actually give you money for a cup.

So we have coffee and it won't stop raining and does anyone out there have drawings for an ark. Because. It is raining and I'm trying to not be complaining.


It hasn't really stopped for the last thirty-seven years and it's even doing it at night with suicidal deer randomly jumping out in front of cars. And yes. I am exaggerating.

Obviously I am complaining about rain.

This is ridiculous since I am now at Martha's and it doesn't matter that it's raining because I have just entered a mind boggling home where I'm sure blood was shed trying to keep this place up. I know I have been here before and am ready for what this place is.

And I am not going to be distracted.

By Ozzie.

Until we see each other and the old flame is rekindled and it's been too long.

I am determined to take good photos of what Martha does but Ozzie loves to be loved and I love Ozzie. I love Ozzie so much that Billy Sue now knows of the love 'cause she could smell him all over me. OzzieOzzieOzzie, that's how he feels.

Wrap yourself in a warm blanket. Whisper, Do you know how much I love you? I love you so much. So much.

That's from Ozzie.

We play on the floor until Martha says, Ozzie get over here.

Then she gives him a treat.

The question posed tonight is when do we believe.

What I love about Martha's art is how you can track what she does. Oh this, this is from those years she and Larry spent in New Orleans when she took classes and played with oils. Over here was inspired from the four years in South America. This, this right here, is an example of her current work.

Martha says always believe.

Today I am grateful for what we learn.

Monday, January 14, 2013




We are sitting there at the front of a huge round table facing the band. Daddy and I have front row seats and we turn and smile at each other and he says, Look at that banjo player, Shea.

Yep. He's good. 

You think? He starts giggling. I think he's just showing off.

Tyler Carroll

We laugh.
I pat Dad on his arm, on his right shoulder, his upper back.

I have to write a six hundred to eight hundred word essay on Tyler Carroll. Will you do it please? Containing that kid into a certain number of words is well.    threatening.

Let's look at the notes.

He started playing guitar when he was in the fifth grade but soon put it down 'cause there was nobody to play with.

Then in November of 2008, when he was a junior in high school, he saw The Marty Stuart Show beaming through his living room a clawhammer banjo played by Leroy Troy. He was seventeen years old when something, I don't know what, but something caught him to the point his Mama says, He just started recording it on the DVR and stopping it and rewinding it and playing it back. I asked him, 'Tyler, what are you doing?' And he said, 'I'm seeing where he puts his fingers.'

That was it. That's all it took for Tyler to become a bluegrass musician. An only child living amongst sugar cane and grandparents and uncles and before long, other musicians.


I stand out on the front porch, record a conversation and notice over some shoulders and down to the right Tyler is helping someone get to their car 'cause not only is Tyler a musician, a senior at a state college, an aspiring teacher, a farmer and producer of his own syrup, he is also a great guy with good manners and a gentle, sweet, old soul care for others. Where do I start?

600-800 words for this magazine.
Coming in February.

Today I am grateful for the people I meet, for a responsibility I feel toward their dreams.


This project.

Plus every now and again we have to sleep.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ruth's Attic

The day we played we chased each other up the steps onto the balcony. 
We looked down and said, Wow.


She told us the building was built in 1875. The columns formed in this town's lumberyard. Wait. It wasn't this building, that building burned to the ground in 1903. This building, the one we were in, was built on those ashes that same year.

Put together with lime and sand.

You chased light while I asked her, How long ago did you move in?

Five days ago. Saturday, no Thursday. Thursday was my first day.

She was nine years old when she started working. That was 1959 when her Dad started moving the family 'cause he kept getting better jobs. She would simply pack up, clean, load, unload, clean again, paint and place all the furniture in their new house. In twelve years she moved her Mom and Dad six times.

She bought this building in October. Less than a week after she signed the papers a huge storm blew through town and she got up at 3am to go see about the place. The seller had said the roof had leaks. What she found when she opened that back door was a wall of water pushing down through the ceiling. 

Now in January she is in business.

Today's music was the inspiration. I woke up singing it, laughing, smiling.

Today I am grateful for the fun we have.